Jill Ellis admitted she does not think the United States women’s national soccer team will receive an invitation to visit the White House, despite claiming their second straight World Cup crown.
Goals from Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle saw the USWNT see off the Netherlands 2-0 in the World Cup final in Lyon, allowing the U.S. to not only defend their 2015 title but also claim their record fourth World Cup.
It had been customary for U.S. champions to visit the White House, and the U.S. president, but Rapinoe claimed in a video from May she would not “go to the f*cking White House” due to Donald Trump’s presidency.
Rapinoe re-iterated her stance on Saturday, and was echoed by teammate Alex Morgan who claimed a decision to go to the capital would be made after the final but that media probably already knew the answer.
Snubs by champions have occurred before since Trump’s election, with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors notably refusing to attend the White House after their titles in 2017 and 2018 as athletes protest his racist, sexist and homophobic rhetoric and policy.
But Ellis suspects the rather open nature of the Rapinoe and her teammates' criticism of Trump will leave them without an invite to turn down.
When asked if they would turn down an invitation after the final, Ellis suggested one wouldn’t be coming. When further pressed that it would be, Ellis replied: “I wouldn’t bet on that.”
Rapinoe’s war of words with Trump only seemed to elevate her play during the tournament, as she scored five of the USWNT’s eight goals in the knockout stage to finish level with Morgan and England’s Ellen White and win the Golden Boot, as well as the Golden Ball for best player.
And Ellis was full of praise for Rapinoe in the victory, hailing her honesty and her ability to handle the spotlight.
“Megan was built for these moments – built to be a spokesperson for these moments,” Ellis said. “She speaks well, speaks from her heart.
“We need people in the game, to be honest, to call things as they are. I think the bigger the spotlight the more she shines. I think the spotlight can burn people but for Megan they show what she is.”
Ellis herself has faced much criticism despite having now taken the USWNT to a pair of World Cup crowns, with the most vocal coming after their surprise loss to Sweden in 2016 Olympics.
But the coach has dismissed that talk, saying she knew what she had to do after that defeat and made the changes necessary.
“I don’t care and I never really read what people thought,” Ellisa said. “I knew after 2016 we had to deconstruct this and reconstruct it. My bosses bought into that, we had to continue to evolve and do more things in terms of how we play, deepening our squad, giving more people opportunities, vetting people.
“I don’t have to talk about critics I don’t care. People out here know a tenth of what we do. I’m very proud of these players.”